Life magazine reflects on the above photo, taken by Hank Walker on President Eisenhower’s first inauguration: “This scene has a democratic feel to it, with the mighty being made to take a joke. Times change, however, and this photograph makes us aware how much. Today’s lasso tosser would have to deal with bulletproof glass and a very nervous Secret Service.” The Hollywood cowboy Monty Montana did ask Ike’s permission before he lassoed the leader of the Free World. At the back, former president Herbert Hoover raised his arm to protect himself from the lasso.
Inauguration ’53 didn’t go that smoothly. In 1947, Harry Truman asked Eisenhower to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1948, with Truman as his vice-presidential running mate. The Republican-leaning general didn’t like Truman very much and viewed Truman as an inept leader who had surrounded himself with cronies. Truman was apprehensive that Eisenhower would undo his efforts to end the Korean War and other aspects of his foreign policy. He also never forgave Ike for not denouncing Senator Joseph McCarthy during the campaign and said Eisenhower “has betrayed almost everything I thought he stood for.”
By the time, they rode together as president and president-elect to Eisenhower’s inauguration, the mutual hatred was evident. Eisenhower wondered aloud “if I can stand sitting next to that guy,” and to irritate the outgoing President, he wore a Homburg rather than a traditional silk top hat. When Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower arrived at the White House to pick up the president, they not only refused to enter for coffee with the Trumans, but stayed in the vehicle until Truman came outside.